Manchester - West Indies captain Jason Holder led from the front with 41 not out in his side's 204 for nine against England in the first one-day international at Old Trafford on Tuesday.
Holder's men have to win this five-match series 5-0 or 4-0 with a tie or no-result if they are to qualify directly for the 2019 World Cup in England.
The no-result part of that equation started to look a possibility when, despite bright sunshine, a wet outfield saw the umpires delay the scheduled start by two hours even though the sun was shining.
In a match reduced to 42 overs per side, West Indies slumped to 160 for seven and were in danger of being dismissed for a lower score than the 176 the World Twenty20 champions managed in their T20 victory against England in Durham on Saturday.
But Holder, who won the toss, at least gave his bowlers some sort of a target to defend in a 33-ball innings featuring five fours.
Rival all-rounder Ben Stokes led England's attack with three for 43 but his nine overs also included two no-balls -- one for height smashed by Holder for four in the last over -- and four wides.
Holder's decision to bat first meant big-hitting opener Chris Gayle was straight into the action for his first ODI since the 2015 World Cup following a dispute with Caribbean cricket chiefs.
Gayle should have been out for a third-ball duck when he edged a drive off Chris Woakes only for Joe Root, England's Test captain, to drop the catch at second slip.
The Jamaica left-hander cashed in by driving David Willey for two soaring sixes in an over.
But Moeen Ali ended a first-wicket stand worth 45 when, with just hid third ball, Evin Lewis (11) powerfully pulled a long hop to Alex Hales at square leg.
West Indies were soon 53 for two when Gayle, whose 37 had come off just 27 balls including two fours and three sixes, skyed a drive off Woakes and Root, atoning for his earlier error, held an excellent catch over his shoulder running back.
Shai Hope, who had been West Indies' outstanding batsman in their recent 2-1 Test series defeat by England, and the returning Marlon Samuels, like Gayle back in the ODI side after a falling out with officials, steadied the innings with a third-wicket partnership of 53 in a relatively sedate 15 overs as the ball often 'plugged' in the outfield.
Hope, however, fell for 35 when he pulled Stokes hard and flat only for Test wicket-keeper Jonny Bairstow, playing as a specialist batsman in this match, to hold an excellent leaping catch at deep midwicket.
Stokes then got the better of longstanding antagonist Samuels when the batsman was caught behind down the legside on review for a subdued 17 off 46 balls.
West Indies, who have lost 12 of their last 13 completed ODIs against England, found runs hard to come by, with leg-spinner Adil Rashid taking two for 31.
But Holder, who hit Willey to the long-on rope, gave the innings some much-needed impetus.